The Hepatitis C Virus is a viral infection that can cause Liver Disease and Liver Failure. Hepatitis C is spread by contact with the blood of an infected person. This virus infection is associated with increased mortality among Chronic Kidney Disease patients especially those who conduct Hemodialysis. Prevalence of the Hepatitis C Virus infection in those on Hemodialysis varies between units. According to Dr. Fabrizio Fabrizi (Maggiore Hospital), however, it is fair to say that, "Hepatitis C Virus infection is still common among Dialysis patients," and "remains frequent in patients receiving Long-Term Dialysis both in developed and less-developed countries."
Yes, the "total time spent on Dialysis" is among the risk factors for the Hepatitis C Virus, according to the National Kidney Foundation. That is why news of the Food And Drug Administration giving the Drug Manufacturer, Merck and Company, Breakthrough Therapy designation to treat chronic Hepatitis C Virus in Dialysis patients is such a big deal.
Although Dialysis units often pride themselves on "strict infection control measures" reports of violated procedures are quite prevalent. The National Kidney Foundation suggested that, "there have been some reports that Hepatitis C has been spread between patients in Hemodialysis units where supplies or equipment may have been shared." Hence, if you are a Hemodialysis patient, especially long-term, you should be sure that your Nephrologists test for the Hepatitis C Virus and know your status.
Many Chronic Kidney Disease patients on Dialysis who have hepatitis C have no symptoms and feel "normal." While Hepatitis C is serious for some, causing severe Liver Damage or Liver Failure; others have some liver damage, but do not feel sick from the disease and simply suffer extreme tiredness. What's more, in rare cases Chronic Kidney Disease patients have no long‑term effects whatsoever until it is too late.
At present, no vaccine is available for Hepatitis C. Merck and Company's groundbreaking therapy, Grazoprevir/Elbasvir, has demonstrated substantial improvement over existing therapies. Now being expedited to market, this new treatment for the Hepatitis C Virus appears promising to help Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients improve their quality of lives.
Recommended Reading: Be on the Lookout for Infections During Nocturnal Home HD
In order to prevent the spread of the Hepatitis C Virus, utilize the following preventative steps:
- Do not share toothbrushes, razors or other personal care articles that might have infected blood on them.
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis B (also attacks Liver).
- Make sure that your Patient Care Technician changes gloves between patients.
- Scan your Dialysis Chair before sitting in it to make sure there is no blood or fluids left behind from previous treatments.
- Check your Dialysis Clinic's Infection Rates (click here). If they are too high, consider changing to a unit with lower Infection Rates.
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